If it was up to Kemba he'd play every game; Celtics are making the right choice sitting Walker in back-to-backs
The Celtics lost another close one last night. One of those games where you could easily say, "If they just had Kemba Walker..." Or Jaylen Brown. Or Robert Williams. Kemba got the grief though because he is actually healthy. One thing fans or talking heads should know is Kemba Walker would 100% have played if he had a choice in the matter. The Celtics have said on multiple occasions that Kemba's greatest weakness is his ability to play through pain and thus to not let the coaching and medical staff know if something is ailing him.
Yup and tonight back In street clothes. Time to take the band-aid off him .
I wish he’d get traded!!! Paying 30 million a year for a guy who can’t stay healthy, can’t play back to backs or 2 games in 3 nights even. Package Walker, Smart, Neismith, and one more player not Williams III/Langford and 3-4 first round picks for Bradley Beal. I’m tired for this
The Celtics aren't going anywhere in the playoffs if they have a 50% healthy Kemba like in the bubble. I mentioned months ago that the loss of Gordon Hayward really set the Celtics title hopes back. And that the TPE had less value than people think. Ainge was able to add a very solid 6th man in Fournier with that TPE and two 2nd round picks. Like most NBA trades salary came into place. The only reason why Orlando traded Fournier is because he's a free agent this summer. And due to the addition of Fournier's salary, Boston had to dump Daniel Theis to avoid the luxury tax.
In a way the trade really was Theis and four 2nd rounders (this includes the two 2nd rounders used to "buy" the TPE from Michael Jordan and the Hornets, since Charlotte could have just signed Hayward outright) for Fournier. A trade like that can certainly help, but the Celtics are only going as far as their health and stars take them. And the most viable option for adding a 3rd All-Star was for Kemba Walker to return to his former self. It looks like that is happening.
I'm skeptical to call this Celtics team contenders because I just don't trust their health. More to the point I don't trust that they will have their top 7 for most games of the playoffs. A starting line-up of Walker, Smart, Brown, Jaylen, and Time Lord, with Fournier as the 6th man and Tristan as the back-up big is a very formidable team. I'm almost positive we've never seen all seven of those guys play in a game together this season. We're lucky to get 4 or 5 of them on the court at once. The rest of the rotation is more fluid. If guys like Romeo, Pritchard, Grant or Semi have to miss some time, you can make do. But Boston doesn't have the room for error like let's say the Nets to win in the playoffs with a key piece out.
Kemba Walker has only gotten better as the season has gone along. Why in the world would the Celtics deviate from what has worked for him this whole season right at end of the season? In case you haven't heard this yet, THERE ARE ZERO BACK-TO-BACK GAMES IN THE PLAYOFFS. There is no reason to take the back-to-back band-aid off now to prepare for the playoffs, since again there are none in the playoffs. It would be like training a baseball starting pitcher at the end of the season to pitch on 2 or 3 days rest even thought there was absolutely no chance they'd pitch on anything less than 4 days rest.
Kemba Walker sitting back-to-backs during a unique condensed NBA season due to the pandemic isn't the same as guys like Kawhi Leonard taking maintenance days all the time (or being cleared to return to the Spurs by doctors and San Antonio wanting to play him, but him refusing).
Of course Kemba wanted to play last night versus the Nets. This isn't him being soft. This is the Celtics wisely deciding the juice isn't worth the squeeze to play Kemba in these last couple back-to-backs. Next week Boston has another one. Oklahoma City and Charlotte. I could see Boston mix things up and play Kemba in the Hornets game instead of the preceding one versus the tanking Thunder, but playing him in both makes no sense. And then the last 2 games that he might sit out is the 3rd to last game of the season (everyone is resting their top players the final week anyway) and the final game of the season (No playoff teams play their starters the final game of the year).
You'll see Jaylen and Tatum get days off as well the final few weeks. The only difference with Kemba is his days off have a pattern. Next year when the NBA season looks more like a traditional schedule, Kemba will return to playing back-to-backs. What the Celtics have done with Kemba this year is exactly what every other teams has done with their injured players and guys coming off rehab. Teams always sit these guys out that first year back. And most sit out more than just the back end of back-to-backs.
Now some might argue that the Celtics are playing for playoff seeding right now, but again the seed doesn't mean anything if Boston isn't healthy. Also trying to orchestrate specific match-ups for certain rounds often ends up blowing up in your face. Sure it would be great not to play the Nets in the first couple rounds if everything was equal. But everything isn't. They are dealing with injuries to their two best players and if you face the Nets earlier in the playoffs you might get a team missing an All-NBA player. Not to mention, Harden, Durant, and Irving have barely played any games together. If you wait until the Eastern Conference Finals to face them not only is there a better chance that all three of their stars are on the court, but they will have had several playoff games to work up a chemistry.
If you're worried the Celtics won't end up in the top 6 and will have to participate in the play-in games, well then Boston might as well pack up the tent and call it a season. If Kemba Walker sitting out last night and let'a say the Thunder game next week is the difference between the Celtics making the playoffs or not, then honestly they weren't going anywhere anyway.
Out of all the things to complain or worry about, Kemba Walker not playing in both games of back-to-backs these final weeks, shouldn't even register. Especially when you see he's healthy and Kemba doesn't have a choice in this matter. If it was up to Walker he'd play in every single game. And don't be surprised if he's very close to that next season. For his career, Kemba has played in every game during a season three times and has an additional three more of 79, 80, and 81 games played. Kemba is not the guy to get on about not being available.